First in Time (Romans 3:1-5)
Paul helps the Roman hearer, and the all Gentile readers of this letter, understand that the primacy of the Jew in God’s plan had nothing to do with some intrinsic worth that they had as people. He will point this out in verse 28 of this chapter. What Paul is trying to make clear is that because God has chosen to work through human affairs someone had to be selected for the purpose of being the instrument of God’s will ([reftagger title=”Romans 3:2″]v. 2[/reftagger]). This people were the children of Abraham. Why Abraham? I don’t know, but that becomes a moot point because it is not something that can be undone or reversed. God picked Abraham and worked out His will through Abraham’s progeny, both the physical and the spiritual (look at Galatians 2:18-21, 3:10-14) . Look back at Romans 2:25-29. Paul has just finished removing any privilege that may have existed for the “circumcised”. The true heart of the matter is what is going on in the heart.
But there is something else at work that Paul wants to address. A teaching had become popular among the Jews that God would overlook and not punish unfaithfulness on the part of the Jews. God’s faithfulness is not, should not, and must not be called into question just because a frail humanity is unable to comply with its end of the bargain. God remains faithful. God’s reputation is not tarnished because of our failures. This however, had become the mentality of the Jews. They believed that their “unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God” ([reftagger title=”Romans 3:5″]v. 5[/reftagger]). This is the epitome of putting God to the test. And it must be avoided at all costs.
Sinning for the Glory of God (Romans 3:6-9)
But not only were the Jews putting God to the test. There rose up in the Jews’ mind an indignation that they were being punished as they served as examples of God’s faithfulness. Paul writes about the total arrogance of the Jews in this regard, “But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?” ([reftagger title=”Romans 3:7″]v. 7[/reftagger], emphasis added). There is never an appropriate time to sin for the Glory of God. This is an attempt and make God a fool and to take the grace that has been given to us and misuse it for our own fleshly desires (Galatians 5:13).
The poor example of the Jewish people as a whole was inexcusable. But Paul understood that he himself had been among them. His errors may have been on the side, the side of piety and total devotion, but that is only exchanging one extreme of misunderstanding for another. Paul recognized that his extreme devotion and other Jews’ extreme infidelity both missed the point and mark of God’s character ([reftagger title=”Romans 3:8″]v. 8[/reftagger]). And because of this both were rightfully condemned ([reftagger title=”Romans 3:9″]v. 9[/reftagger]).